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What is Animation?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 23, 2024
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Animation is the process of displaying still images in a rapid sequence to create the illusion of movement. These images can be hand drawn, computer generated, or pictures of 3D objects. Though most people associate animation with cartoons, it also has applications in industrial and scientific research. Regardless of the type, the viewer's body plays a main role in why people see continuous movement instead of a series of quickly changing images.


There are three main types of animation: traditional, stop motion, and computer generated. Each can be used to make both 2D or 3D images. There are also other less common forms, many of which focus on using an unusual medium like sand or glass to create the images, as well as combination of live action and drawings or computer created images.


Traditional animation involves drawing every frame of a film by hand. After all the drawings are completed and colored, they can be photographed or scanned into a computer and then combined with sound on film. The process is extremely time-consuming, since it requires the creation of around 24 drawings per second of film. It's also labor-intensive, which is why most traditionally animated films are produced by large companies.

Stop Motion

In this process, animators manipulate and photograph objects one motion and frame at a time. The objects can be almost anything, ranging from clay figures to paper cut outs to household objects. Some stop motion films use actual people, who hold specific poses for individual frames. After photographing the objects, the photos are then transferred to film and combined with sound, as with the traditional method.

Computer Generated

Animators can also use computer software to create films and models, which is generally faster than the traditional method. The characters and objects they make can be either two-dimensional or three-dimensional, but the process for creating each type is a little different. For 2D computer generated animation, the animator creates a series of images with each one very slightly different from the last, very similarly to the traditional method. To create 3D images, he or she has to make a model of the character or object. This can be done by creating animation variables, which are points on a computer model that can be moved to create a different posture or look, or by using motion capture, in which a live actor acts the part of the character and his or her motions are recorded and applied to the computer-created model.


Though most people think of animation as being used primarily for entertainment in movies, TV shows, and video games, it has many other uses. It's commonly used in educational videos and advertisements both on TV and on the Internet, and it can also be used in the process of research and development to create simulations of how a machine or process would work. This can help designers troubleshoot problems without having to actually create the physical object. Scientists use animation as well to create visualizations of abstract concepts or objects that are too small or large to be seen easily, which is helpful both for research and for analysis.

Role of the Viewer

Animated films and models aren't actually moving, but people see the illusion of movement because of a phenomenon called persistence of vision. In this phenomenon, the brain and eyes cooperate to store images for fractions of a second, and the brain smooths out any minor jumps or blips automatically. Since animated frames are shot at very fast rates, people generally see the movement without stoppages.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Musical Expert writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By psps90 — On Mar 17, 2016

Good explanation of animation and its uses are very well explained by Dream Engine Animation Studio.

By anon322591 — On Feb 28, 2013

Evaluate a software package or technique used to create animation.

By anon314544 — On Jan 18, 2013

Try it on paper first before you do animation.

By anon287992 — On Aug 28, 2012

How can I be an animator if I don't know how to draw? Is it possible to be an animator without knowing how to draw?

By anon273906 — On Jun 09, 2012

I have finished my first year and I am planning to do animation. The problem is that I don't know much about animation. Can you please help me with information about everything regarding animation? What would be my future if I take animation and what actually does this animation study mean?

By anon269625 — On May 18, 2012

Animation is such a lovely field where you can explore anything. The sky is the limit. Once you master the craft there is a bright future. Be passionate then opportunities knock at your door.

By anon215346 — On Sep 18, 2011

I am rakesh and I am interested in this field but I am scared about it because most people have told me that it is a waste of time and money. Please reply. I want the scope of it.

By anon196289 — On Jul 14, 2011

Don't discontinue your studies for animation, guys. Remember, the Indian animation industry is filld wth artists and you have to go through a lot of deadlines and hectic schedules throughout your life, and if you are a freshman, you won't get enough respect for your academics. If you are ready for all this, join. All the best.

By anon180706 — On May 27, 2011

I don't know anything about animation study but i want to do animation. What is the future of this course? Please explain to me.

By anon163458 — On Mar 28, 2011

i am prasanth and i have completed my 12th standard. i would like to apply to the best animation college for being an animator. can you send me the details after and being an animator? send me details of the duration and salary after completion my animation courses.

By anon148696 — On Feb 02, 2011

I'm shree and I'm doing my 12th and i also took CGA group (Computer graphic animation) and i learned software like adobe photoshop for three years, adobe premiere three years, flash1 one year, pinnacle liquid two years and some sound editing software. i need help to study abroad.

By anon148550 — On Feb 02, 2011

i am working in my own concern. i am an accountancy student, but I'm interested in reading animations but have no time. how can i improve my skills?

By anon138844 — On Jan 02, 2011

i am vani. i am pursuing my bsc. i am very much excited to join animations, but a little bit afraid. what should we learn before joining animation course. please reply to me immediately.

By anon115205 — On Oct 01, 2010

I'm john. i really want to be a professional animator but the problem is i have no installer and am a little bit scared about the future about this.

By anon112813 — On Sep 22, 2010

My name is anita. i want to do animation but i don't know about this course. i am doing my 12th now and can i make my career in this? can i get good job after doing this course?

By anon104597 — On Aug 17, 2010

my name is amit i want to work in animation but i don't know about animation courses.

By anon102277 — On Aug 07, 2010

i am a bcom graduate but my interest lies totally in creativity, so i want to do an animation course. I wanted to know the eligibility criteria for entering the field, and the post graduation courses in this field. i am really keen to join it. Awaiting your reply soon. pooja

By anon93153 — On Jul 02, 2010

My name is navjot.I want to do animation. But i am little scared about this course. What will be my future after this course?

By anon92362 — On Jun 27, 2010

My name is revatio and I want to do animation but i m scared after doing a basic animation what will be my future after doing this course. and could I get a job at a good salary? Please reply soon. thanks.

By anon90993 — On Jun 19, 2010

i just want to know how to get into an animation carer. I'm in 12th and want to take up animation. I don't know what it is, and if I could get a job in it or not. I just want to know a good animation course and from where i can do it?

By anon90825 — On Jun 18, 2010

i finished my 12th. i am planning to do animation. The problem is that i don't know much about animation. can you please help regarding the opportunities and information about everything regarding animation? what would be the future if i take animation and what actually does this animation study mean?

By anon88809 — On Jun 07, 2010

I'm in 12th and want to take up animation. I don't know what is it, and if it would get a job or not. i want good money. I just want to know a good animation course and from where i can do it?

By anon87157 — On May 28, 2010

Please send me animation information. I am doing an animation course in 2D and 3D.

By anon85127 — On May 19, 2010

i like animation so give me information about this

By anon83670 — On May 12, 2010

i am interested in taking an animation course. what is the qualification to study this course?

By nandan19 — On Apr 10, 2010

I am nandan. i am interested in animation courses. i wanted info regarding the course. Is drawing and handwriting important in this course? Please help me out soon I am waiting for your reply.

By viswanana9 — On Apr 06, 2010

I am a student at Image Hyderabad. It gives a hands on experience in all aspects, right from visual designing to portfolio development. Before joining I was a little bit afraid whether I'll get a job or not, but I've placed in designer in ESPN cricinfo, bangalore with amazing sal. Thanks to Image Kukatpalli.

By anon72953 — On Mar 25, 2010

I am doing animation and can i find a good career in this field? please tell me. --Harsh

By anon70748 — On Mar 16, 2010

I want to learn Animation. Which requirements should I have to learn animation?

By anon69768 — On Mar 10, 2010

My name is Syed and i am a second year student.

The media is very powerful, so don't think the graphics field is rubbish. It is a very good field. i have a complete diploma in Graphics from pakistan college of art and now am learning fine arts because fine arts is a must need in this field, like modeling. I want to join a production house for experience then i will be doing the job.

By anon68995 — On Mar 05, 2010

my name is swati porwal and i am a student of arena animation. I'm sure that if any person has creativity then he will find a good job in this field.

By anon68946 — On Mar 05, 2010

i am apoorva. i too am very interested in animation but i'm confused because this course is costly. after doing the course can i get a job? Please answer me. i have already finished my fashion designing course. What they teach in one year -- is this sufficient

By anon68927 — On Mar 05, 2010

I'm doing a ND in media and we have to make our own animation and i think it's fun - when the computer wants to work.

By anon63302 — On Feb 01, 2010

Animation is not a waste thing.

By anon62515 — On Jan 27, 2010

i am rahul. i just want to the scope in the animation. I am already in job so would you suggest to join an animation course.

By anon61463 — On Jan 20, 2010

This is all depends on your interest, dedication and practice. if you are able to practice 20 hours a day, you can be a good animator.

This field is only for dedicated people, not for kind of lazy people. if you can't do this don't give people wrong information.

By anon59963 — On Jan 11, 2010

hey guys, please don't take an animation course. it is such a waste of money and time.

By anon56611 — On Dec 16, 2009

I would like to do an animation course from abroad so if you guys have any types of information please let me know. i would like to say thanks to the master of this site and the people who writing on this site. thanks

By anon52227 — On Nov 12, 2009

Please, please don't take an animation course. it is such a waste of money. You can't get a job anywhere because the industry is filled with artists, and there is a heavy work load and very low salary, so think 100 times before joining this. i'ts not a good career.

By anon49577 — On Oct 21, 2009

i'm rahul gupta from jaipur and i'm doing maya software.

i have some problems regarding maya software. i'm also doing body in maya software and facing many problems with body, so if you can help me, please give me an idea or solution regarding maya software. i will be very thankful if you help me. thank you

By anon44335 — On Sep 07, 2009

My friends know i am learning maya. i am having some problems in modeling.

how i can learn this well and easily,

and how is animation and are animation jobs available, because i am interested in animation. please give me a reply.

By anon44327 — On Sep 07, 2009

I am in college and have just been given a booklet to work through about website development. I am kind of stuck about what other answers could I give for explaining animation for websites apart from entertainment? thanks kc

By anon40827 — On Aug 11, 2009

good day! i just want to know if what were the problems that animation encountered?

By anon40255 — On Aug 07, 2009

hi guys. i don't know anything about animation,

but i love animation and want to do animation,

but i am confused. but i am little scared abut this course.

By anon39666 — On Aug 03, 2009

Must i first start with computer design in order to move to animation?

By anon38879 — On Jul 29, 2009

i don't know much about animation study but i want to do animation. What are my future chances in this career? Please do post your answer. --rashmi

By anon38707 — On Jul 28, 2009

You decide why you should take up animation. This industry will never get affected.

By anon35756 — On Jul 07, 2009

i don't know anything about animation study but i want to do animation.........what is the future of this course? Please explain me

By anon35626 — On Jul 06, 2009

now there are no jobs in the market for animation artists because the market is full of artists, and artists with problems.... Don't join anyone now.

By shanti — On Feb 12, 2009

why should i join an animation course?

By anon18826 — On Sep 30, 2008

pls id love to know how animation can be used as teaching aids in nursery schools, that is in children from age 1- 5 pls, thanks

By anon14509 — On Jun 18, 2008

As you said that animation is a 24 different drawing per second. It is looking so tuff and boring...am i right?

By anon14379 — On Jun 16, 2008

Hi my name is sumanth. I want to do animation. But i am little scared about this course that what will be my future after doing this course? Because currently i am studying Bsc 1st year in Cs. I am discontinuing Bsc and i am planning to do animation.

By anon7266 — On Jan 22, 2008

if we do some modification in moving images as we slow down the speed of action or increase it, is it animation or not?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Musical Expert writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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